You're a great storyteller. Write a book - they said...
How much it's going to cost to publish it? They didn’t say…
Thanks to easy self-publishing, nowadays anyone, whose dream was to be a published author, can see their book published in print and eBook. There is a positive, and there is a not so positive side of easy publishing.
There are a lot of gems among self-published books with new ideas and fascinating stories that might have been rejected by publishers.
Just to mention a few:
Agatha Christie was rejected by publishers for 5 years. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion.
The Harry Potter series was rejected 12 times. Today the sales reached 450 million.
Dan Brown was told when he submitted The Da Vinci Code, “it is so badly written”. The book sales today reached 80 million.
I never forget when we had to do a book report on one of the assigned books back in school, it was the War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Half of our class absolutely loved the book, and half the kids hated it. One girl asked the teacher why he assigned such a boring, stupid book, the other one hushed her saying, “You’re stupid and boring. This book is brilliantly written.” The teacher smiled and replied, “Now kids, today you’ve learned a valuable lesson. Everyone’s likes and preferences are different, but every writer who has the courage to put their thoughts and feelings on paper has something to say. And, eventually, every book finds its reader.”
If you have something to say, say it. Even if only a few friends and family members will read it, you will leave a mark with your book, “I was here.”
However, thousands of books are crowding the shelves written by writers who think that badly written, badly edited and formatted books are okay to be published. They don’t want to invest time or money to publish quality work; they publish a half-ass manuscript, just because they can, giving good indie writers a bad name.
Those who invest months to learn the publishing process or invest money to publish a decent book are paying a high price.
To edit and format a book and produce an artistic looking book cover requires skills and time. Therefore, the work cost money.
However, with the rise of self-published books, inevitably, hundreds of author services are popping up every day too. The majority of them provide quality work, but some so-called businesses take advantage of the authors who has to rely on them.
They charge very high prices and promise everything on their fancy websites, but their delivered work is questionable. Two days ago a new author sent me her manuscript and ordered my Publishing Coach service, which includes help from formatting and book interior design to book cover, publishing the book in the author’s name, ISBN and promotion.
The only service I don’t provide is editing. Although I check the manuscript with two editing programs when I format the print and eBook, even with collage degree and writing experience, I don’t feel that I’m qualified to edit a manuscript.
When I checked this manuscript, I was amazed at the lousy editing job. My editing program showed hundreds of errors in the 200-page book such as missing letters (he instead of the) duplicate words, misspelled words (tangeled instead of tangled) and so on. I contacted the author and asked if she had sent me the unedited file by mistake, she said no, that was the edited version. I advised her to contact the editor, because the manuscript was loaded with errors, she replied, “OMG! The truth is that I’m terrible with grammar, so I accepted all the corrections she made, thinking that she knows best, she’s an editor. And I just paid $600 that’s non-refundable after I accepted what she did. I guess I have to hire another editor.”
I told her that as much as I read from the manuscript, the story is amazing and worth publishing, and I advised her to choose the next editor carefully.
Another author asked me if I could take a look at her book. It was formatted by a fancy company for $400, and both the eBook and print were rejected by the publishing sites. She complained, but they only kept sending her the same email with uploading instructions. When I looked, the print had too narrow margins, too large illustrations that made the pictures shift and created empty pages. The eBook had empty lines and pages and no page breaks between chapters. I formatted her book for $80, and both formats were accepted by the publishing sites.
My point is that a lot unqualified of people take advantage of indie authors. There are high school drop-out “editors” and people who give the least amount for a high price.
My advice to indie authors: shop around. Ask published authors in forums or groups, and when you get recommendations, check the books the editor, cover artist or book interior designer worked on. It’s worth buying a book for a few dollars and see if they did a quality job on the book, or not. When you contact a book formatter or cover artist, have specific instruction what you’d like and see if they’re willing to work with you, or they just want to get the job done fast without revisions.
Picking someone from the internet just because they have a fancy, professional looking website to work on your book is not a good idea. In this case, word of mouth recommendation is the best.
Erika M Szabo
Author of magical realism, fantasy and children's books, Publishing Coach at
Print & eBook